Michel Baudouin

When you see French chef Michel Baudouin, ask him his nickname for Asheville. Neither the content of his answer nor its charmingly accented delivery disappoints. “I call it Funky Town because it’s got a lot of character,” Baudouin says. “The businesses are very, very diversified.”

Baudouin heads up the French quarter of Funky Town with two restaurants, Bouchon Bistro and Creperie Bouchon. “We try to offer diners a quick trip to France,” he says. “When people go out, they want more than just food; they want an experience.”

At the Creperie, that experience couples casual fare with live music in a hidden courtyard. At Bouchon, it revolves around comforting bistro fare — Bouillabaisse, steak au poivre, beef bourguignon — and fine wine. Both restaurants offer popular all-you-can-eat mussel nights Monday through Wednesday. (The record is about 350 mussels and their accompanying herbed fries.)

Baudouin says his restaurants benefit from a combination of fun food (no nouveau cuisine here) and unusual architecture.“The layout we’re in — the old buildings, this courtyard that nobody can see from the street — just landed itself,” he says. “It reminds me of a little square in any French town.”

The tiny Creperie’s street number makes most people laugh: 62½. Baudouin attributes its quirky architecture to Asheville’s slow recovery from the Great Depression. The city spent decades (until 1976) repaying its debts, and downtown became a time capsule from the 1920s. “When there is no money to build, there is no money to demolish, and that’s why the town has kept a lot of its old charms,” Baudouin says. “That’s what makes it interesting.”

Michel Baudouin | Bouchon

Michel Baudouin | Bouchon